London, Feb 24 (IANS) Members of the UK’s opposition Labour have started casting their votes in a contest to replace outgoing leader Jeremy Corbyn, it was reported on Monday.

The three-way race is between Indian-origin MP Lisa Nandy, Labour’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer and Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, the BBC reported.

They qualified for the ballot after obtaining enough support from unions and affiliated groups.

The party is also choosing a new deputy leader, following Tom Watson’s resignation last December.

Voting will close on April 2, with the results announced at a special conference two days later.

Among those taking part will be 114,000 new members who have joined since the December 12, 2019 general election, where Labour won its lowest number of seats since 1935.

Members of affiliated trades unions and groups can also vote, as well as around 14,700 “registered supporters” who have paid 25 pounds to take part on a one-off basis.

To qualify for the ballot, candidates needed support from three unions or affiliates representing 5 per cent of the membership, or 33 constituency Labour parties (CLPs).

Starmer is seen as the front-runner in the contest and has secured the most nominations from unions and affiliates, as well as CLPs.

In an interview, he pledged that uniting the party after its heavy election defeat would be his “first priority” if elected leader, the BBC reported.

Speaking at a members’ hustings in Durham on Sunday, all three leadership candidates pledged to offer their rivals shadow cabinet posts if they are successful, and said they would happily serve in the winner’s top team.

–IANS

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